Dr Bastyr, (my doctor), was a rare breed back then. Because the AMA and medical establishment had the market to themselves, those who stepped outside the accepted lines of practice were considered quacks and many spent time in jail for practicing medicine without a license.
Because the mainstream medical establishment had strong lobbies, getting licensure for our profession was next to impossible. Even with excellent education, getting past the medical establishment is one of the toughest areas we still face.
Currently, seventeen states, Puerto Rico, and five Canadian provinces license naturopathic physicians. Even now, doctors in those states without licensure face being arrested, and frequently operate under other licenses.
California was one of those states. Many naturopaths got their acupuncture license so they could practice under that license. Recently they’ve joined other states who have legislated naturopathy into law. Several states are in the process of getting naturopathic laws in place. I’m blessed to live in one of the states with the oldest standing laws to practice naturopathic medicine.
When asked, “what is a naturopathic doctor?” The answer is really quite complex. Here are the five principles of naturopathic medicine.
- The healing power of nature: Nature works powerfully through healing mechanisms in the body and mind to maintain and restore health. We work to restore and support these inherent healing systems when they’ve broken down, by using methods, medicines, and techniques which are in harmony with natural processes.
- First do no harm: We prefer non-invasive treatments which minimize risks of harmful side effects. We are trained to know which patients can be treated safely, and which ones need to be referred to other health care professionals.
- Find the cause: Every illness has an underlying cause, often in aspects of lifestyle, diet, or habits of the individual. We are trained to remove the underlying cause of a disease.
- Treat the whole person: Health or disease comes from a complex interaction of physical, emotional, dietary, environmental, genetic, lifestyle, and other factors. We treat the whole person, taking these factors into account.
- Preventive medicine: The naturopathic approach to health care can prevent minor illnesses from developing into more serious or chronic degenerative diseases. Patients are taught the principles with which to live a healthy life; by following these principles they can prevent major illnesses. So you see, we are all about changing the way you live, so you can live long and strong, and enjoy your life.
“diagnoses, treats, and cares for patients, using a system of practice that bases its treatment of all physiological functions and abnormal conditions on natural laws governing the body, utilizes physiological, psychological and mechanical methods, such as air, water, heat, earth, phytotherapy (treatment by use of plants), electrotherapy, physiotherapy, minor surgery, mechanotherapy, naturopathic corrections and manipulation, and all natural methods or modalities, together with natural medicines, natural processed foods, herbs, and natural remedies. Excludes major surgery, therapeutic use of x-ray and radium, and prescribing of drugs, except those substances containing elements or compounds which are compounds of body tissues and are physiologically compatible to body processes for maintenance of life."
So, as you can see, this practice of naturopathic medicine is extremely broad and encompasses areas of treatment frequently missed or ignored by many. The stigma of the doctor in a back room stirring a pot is one that’s been changing as more people seek us out in lieu of what I now to refer to as “alternative medicine”. Naturopathic medicine has been moving to the forefront of peoples awareness, and many use us as their primary care physicians.
Now when asked what kind of doctor I am, I frequently hear, “Alright, that’s the good kind.”